What are the best bets at Glorious Goodwood on Thursday?
Thursday’s feature is the Qatar Goodwood Cup and is one of four Channel 4-televised races to come under the scrutiny of our racing expert here.
14:00 Matchbook Betting Exchange Stakes (Handicap), 1m1f192y
Sir Michael Stoute’s Stargazer relished the step up to this trip when landing a Sandown handicap on his reappearance, having shown promise in 7f/1m maidens at two, and he could be a Group horse in the making. However, he has to give 11lb to DWIGHT D and William Haggas’ charge, who has already been tried at Group 3 level, can take advantage.
A tendency to race too keenly proved his downfall in Classic trials at Sandown and Chester in the spring, finishing well beaten in both, but he’s evidently well regarded and a subsequent gelding operation appears to have to done the trick in terms of helping him to settle better. That was in evidence on his handicap debut at Newmarket earlier this month when, after being steadied at the start and racing last early, he made eye-catching late headway into third. He was the only horse to make any meaningful late headway in a race dominated by prominent racers, so the run can be upgraded, and the first-time cheek-pieces he wore on that occasion are reapplied here. With Jamie Spencer booked and riding at is minimum weight of 8st 7lb, everything is in place for a huge run and bet365’s 7/1 is a fair.
14:35 Qatar Richmond Stakes (Group 2), 6f
Mehmas is claerly one of Richard Hannon’s top juveniles and was winning his third race from five starts at the Newmarket July meeting, having finished runner-up in Royal Ascot’s Coventry Stakes previously. However, a 3lb penalty for that Group 2 success at HQ makes his task harder and the half-length second, Intelligence Cross, is entitled to reverse the form on today’s better terms.
However, both may struggle to cope with Charlie Appleby’s unbeaten BLUE POINT, who who looked something extra special when routing a decent field at Doncaster last time by 11 lengths or more in a time 1.64 seconds quicker than the proceeding nursery. That has put him in line for some of the top juvenile races later in the season – he holds an entry in the Group 1 National Stakes in September – and this Group 2 prize looks his for the taking en route. He’s odds-on and no bigger than 4/5 (Betway), but deservedly so.
15:10 Qatar Goodwood Cup (Group 2) (British Champions Series), 2m
Michael Bell’s Big Orange is bidding to become the sixth dual winner since Le Moss in 1980 and he’s taken the same route as last year, having successfully defended his crown in the Princess Of Wales’s Stakes at the Newmarket July meeting – beating a strong field with real authority. He’s reportedly come out of that race in good order and with the ground likely to stay on the fast side (a few showers are forecast but nothing substantial), he’s a worthy favourite at around the 4/1 mark.
But this is always a tough race to win and amongst his 14 rivals is last year’s neck runner-up Quest For More, who looked as good as ever when finishing second at York on his reappearance in May and he too will find the fast ground to his liking. He will tempt plenty of each-way backers at BetVictor’s 8/1, but I’d rather take a chance on David Simcock’s CURBYOURENTHUSIASM improving for the step up to two miles. A taking winner of the Mallard Handicap over 1m6f on his final start of 2015, he showed he can be competitive at this level when getting to within half a length of Clever Cookie in the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup on his comeback run. The small field and slow gallop were against him on that occasion but this race should be run more to suit and I’ve long thought he was crying out for this sort of trip.
The one caveat being he must have fast ground, so the advice is to wait and back him just before the off when we can be certain of the conditions, even if that means we have to take shorter than the current 7/1 (BetVictor).
There is a potential fly in the ointment with Aidan O’Brien supplying the only three-year-old runner, Sword Fighter, who is attempting a hat-trick after wins at Royal Ascot and the Curragh. Only two horses from his age group have landed this in the last 40 years, but very few try these days – just three in the last decade with Veracity doing best of the trio when second in 2007 – and he’s very much respected getting a hefty weight-for-age allowance.
15:45 Markel Insurance Fillies’ Stakes (Group 3) (Registered As The Lillie Langtry Stakes), 1m6f
The Ralph Beckett-trained PAMONA heads a field of seven and she is officially the class act in the race following her 25/1 success in a Listed contest at York earlier this month, when stepping up to this trip for the first time and making her stable debut. There didn’t appear to be any fluke about that victory and, having been placed in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes last season when with Luca Cumani, there is every reason to think she can follow up at this higher level. Take Paddy Power’s 5/2.
John Gosden’s Mill Springs has to enter calculations. A Listed winner over this trip last October, she ran a career-best third in the Ascot Stakes last time on soft ground and every drop of rain that falls will improve her chances. Sir Michael Stoute’s Yarrow has won just one of her eight starts, but she was a staying-on second over 1m4f at Pontefract last time and should suited by this longer trip.